Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) is a Catholic saint and the patron saint of Lourdes, France, where a series of Marian apparitions occurred in 1858. She is also the patron saint of illness, poverty and shepherds.
Born on January 7th, 1844 in Lourdes, France, Bernadette was the daughter of a miller. She was the eldest of nine children, and the family was extremely poor. Bernadette suffered from asthma and other ailments, and was not expected to survive her childhood. In February 1858, at the age of 14, Bernadette was out gathering firewood near the Grotto of Massabielle, when she saw a beautiful lady standing in a niche in the rock. The lady spoke to her in the local dialect and told her to pray and do penance. Bernadette went back to the grotto 18 times and each time, she felt a deep peace and joy. The lady, who identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, provided Bernadette with a series of messages, which included a call to pray the rosary and to dig in the ground at the grotto. On the fifth visit, a spring began to flow and people began to report miraculous healings.
The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes were eventually recognized as authentic by the Church, and Bernadette was canonized on December 8th , 1933 by Pope Pius XI. She was beatified on April 14th, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is celebrated on April 16th.
Bernadette never sought fame or recognition for her visions, and she passed away on April 16th, 1879 at the age of 35, due to tuberculosis. She was buried in the cemetery of Lourdes, where she still rests today.
Although she lived a short life, Saint Bernadette remains an important figure in Catholicism, especially in France. Her visions at the grotto of Massabielle are now known as one of the miracles of the Catholic Church, and her story continues to inspire many people around the world.